To the southeast of Mount Lamlam is another major hill, Mount Bolanos (1,240 feet [378 metres]). Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. Get the best of Smithsonian magazine by email. Guam has persisted under American rule to the present day, while the northern islands experienced first almost two decades of benign German rule, then nearly three decades under the thumb of the Japanese empire, which took all of Germany’s Pacific territories at the outset of World War I.

At least 1,123 died.

By 1700, just 5,000 Chamorros—some 10 percent of their former number—remained. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Guam remained a Spanish possession until 1898, when, in the course of the Spanish-American War, the U.S. warship Charleston steamed into Apra Harbor and bombarded the old fort. Most Americans likely have some inkling that Guam exists and is somehow American.

While geographically, Guam is among the Mariana Islands, so named by Spanish missionaries in 1668, it is a separate U.S. territory from the Northern Mariana Islands, which is technically a commonwealth. California Do Not Sell My Info It’s “American soil,” but the residents do not have full American citizenship, and cannot vote in presidential elections. The reason why Guam remains a U.S. territory, while the rest of Micronesia is not, can be traced to an ironic accident of history and geography. An international airport links Guam with other Pacific islands, Asia, and Hawaii and the continental United States. The abundant snakes have also caused numerous power outages by climbing poles and wires and crawling into transmission equipment, and they have killed small mammals. Please click here for the latest updates on COVID-19 in Guam ... Guam, the largest and southernmost of the Mariana Islands chain, has a unique and complex cultural history. The political maneuverings after World War II and the post war buildup led to even more expansion of US military interests in Guam and the rest of Micronesia, with Guam becoming a hub for economic and commercial development. The project, Pacific Worlds, is an indigenous-geography cultural documentation and education project, sponsored by Pacific Resources for Education and Learning (PREL). Privacy Statement

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Journalist, Suva, Fiji. Later I did a similar project in Tanapag village on nearby Saipan, part of the Northern Mariana Islands, and published a paper about the history of colonialism (American, in particular) in the region. However, as a result of the accidental introduction in the 1940s of the brown tree snake, an invasive species from New Guinea, indigenous bird life on Guam has been devastated. In a series of Supreme Court rulings known as the Insular Cases of 1901, it was decided that new territories might never be incorporated into the union and were to receive only unspecified ‘‘fundamental’’ Constitutional protections. Guam remains on the United Nations list of 17 non-self-governing territories—colonies, that, under the U.N. charter, should be de-colonized. Vote Now! The Spanish troops and officials stationed in Guam were at first glad to have visitors when the USS Charleston arrived.

As late as 1936, two Guam delegates, Baltazar J. Bordallo and Francisco B. Leon Guerrero, went to Washington to petition in person for Chamorro citizenship.

By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Magellan’s view of the world as a Portuguese Catholic in the early 1500s did not help the encounter,” explains Anne Perez Hattori, a Chamorro historian at the University of Guam. The leading exports are motor vehicles and parts, fish and other food products, scrap metal, and tobacco products. U.S. Navy facilities, located around the island, include a naval air station, a naval base with a ship repair yard, communications centres, and a hospital. They have a non-voting representative to Congress. Tourism is the most prominent component of the economy, with more than a million visitors arriving per year. Pacific Resources for Education and Learning (PREL), Log Cabin Excavation Unearths Evidence of Forgotten Black Community, When Catherine of Aragon Led England's Armies to Victory Over Scotland, New Evidence That Grandmothers Were Crucial for Human Evolution, Book of Lost Books Discovered in Danish Archive, Bird Flies 7,500 Miles, a New Record for Longest Nonstop Bird Migration, The True Story of 'The Trial of the Chicago 7', Long Before Trees Overtook the Land, Earth Was Covered by Giant Mushrooms, The True Story of the ‘Free State of Jones’, Scientists Cloned an Endangered Wild Horse Using the Decades-Old Frozen Cells of a Stallion, Fossilized Footprints Found in New Mexico Track Traveler With Toddler in Tow, This Humongous Fungus Is as Massive as Three Blue Whales, The Strange and Mysterious History of the Ouija Board, Eight Secret Societies You Might Not Know, The Unsuccessful WWII Plot to Fight the Japanese With Radioactive Foxes, Nero, History's Most Despised Emperor, Gets a Makeover. Photographs From the Last Quiet Places on Earth. History and Culture But Guam is much more than sun, sea, and sand. He is now the executive director of the Waioli Corporation in Kaua'i, Continue At least 1,123 died. A clan-based society arose by 800 A.D. that included villages characterized by impressive latte houses, one-story houses set atop rows of two-piece stone columns; these were still in use as late as 1668.

It was from neighboring Tinian that the Enola Gay took off to drop the bomb on Hiroshima. Omissions? The Spanish empire was approaching its twilight years by the time the United States acquired California from Mexico in 1848, an era when the ideology of “manifest destiny” justified aggressive American expansion. There are large numbers of migrants from the Philippines and South Korea, as well as from neighbouring states such as the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

The contradiction of a “free,” “democratic” country holding colonies unfolded powerfully on Guam over the ensuing century. The Mariana Islands proved not terribly useful to the Spanish. Finland, Japan, and the Federated States of Micronesia are the main export destinations. Inhabited for thousands of years archaeological evidence indicates that the Marianas Islands were one of the first places to be settled by seafaring peoples, possibly from Island Southeast Asia, over 4000 years ago. Hagåtña (Agana) is the capital. “On seeing the Chamorros, he did not view them as his equals…. They lost their millennia-old connections to the land, their traditions and their stories.

One could sail west-to-east from the Philippines to the Marianas just by following the sun. Guam also had a unique position in World War II, when Japan invaded the island shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Doug Herman, formerly a senior geographer at the National Museum of the American Indian, specializes in the cultural knowledge of Hawaii and Pacific Islands. And so began the assimilation of the Chamorros. His death was the turning point that transformed this hitherto-ignored Spanish outpost into a subjugated Spanish colony. That all changed when an aggressive Jesuit missionary, Father San Vitores, arrived in the Marianas in 1668. To their surprise, the island was instead placed under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of the Navy, and was ruled by a series of military governors who, though generally benign, wielded absolute authority. [T]he Chamorros took things. Many types of marine life and insects are also found. Slopes of Two Lovers Leap, Tumon Bay, Guam. The northern islands were off limits, until typhoon-devastated Caroline Islanders arrived from the south—as was their traditional practice—looking for temporary shelter around 1815. Small-island living requires a system of codes and practices, evolved over millennia, which no outside culture can replace, even today. The Mariana Islands appear to have been continuously occupied by people who shared the same culture and language that eventually became known as Chamorro. Cookie Policy They didn’t know that war had been declared between the two nations, and mistook their cannon fire for a salute. The Navy maintained the island—both physically and discursively—as an essential American forward base, and under their administrations, Guam was run like a well-ordered battleship under what was essentially martial law. Right after the U.S takeover, the leading families of Guam met and established a legislature in anticipation of a democratic, representative government. At least a dozen bird species have become extinct, and several more are endangered. A local priest, Father Jesus Baza Dueñas, was. ©2020 Guam Visitors Bureau. Once on Guam, the Chamorros were resettled into newly created villages, each under the watchful eye of a Spanish priest. After the Spanish-American War of 1898, Spain ceded Guam to the United States. Relations were tense with occasional violence. He definitely viewed them as pagans, as savages…. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox.

Andersen Air Force Base and its annexes are concentrated at the northern end of the island.

A pair of F-22 Raptors patrolling the Pacific Ocean during a deployment of the 90th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. Terms of Use

It was not until 1993, with the 50th anniversary of the liberation approaching, that Congress was moved by Guam’s congressional representative, Robert Underwood, to overtly recognize the suffering of the Chamorros. In 2002, I conducted community-based research in the southern village of Inarahan (Inalahan in Chamorro).

The island is sharply divided into a northern limestone plateau with a general elevation of about 500 feet (150 metres) and a higher area of volcanic hills to the south.

It was 500 years ago, in 1521, when Ferdinand Magellan’s ships, weary and hungry, pulled up to this island, beginning 300 years of Spanish conquest.

Nowadays most Americans, if they know of Guam at all, think of this and neighboring Saipan as sites of World War II battles.

For the next three years, Guam was the only US territory occupied by Japanese forces until the Americans returned in 1944 to reclaim the island. Few know how or why.

Guam was probably explored by the Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan (sailing for Spain) in 1521. All rights reserved. The full community study, with maps, photos and illustrations, can be found here, but given the current circumstances, a short history is merited. The battle to re-conquer Guam from the Japanese, however, does stand out, at least for war buffs.

The 1898 Treaty of Paris between Spain and the U.S. would later formalize the handover of Guam. The plateau is covered with a thick growth of jungle, while the volcanic hills support mainly sword grass. The Spanish then began transporting Chamorros from the northern islands to Guam, where they could control them—a process that took nearly a century, as the fast native canoes could outrun the larger and slower Spanish ships and elude capture. Nonetheless, indigenous culture continued in other ways—in values, in traditions surrounding weddings and funerals, in housing styles, and many other forms not obvious to the outsider.

The National Park Service commemorated it with a park spanning seven different locations.

Located in the Western Pacific in the geographic region known as Micronesia, Guam is well known for its strategic military and economic position between Asia and the North American continent, but is less known for its remarkable history and resilient people.

Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). A peaceful transfer of power ensued. But the Navy convinced the federal government to reject the petition.

Native Guamanians, ethnically called Chamorros, are of basically Malayo-Indonesian descent with a considerable admixture of Spanish, Filipino, Mexican, and other European and Asian ancestries.